Other voices: Terrorists next door

The discovery in Bowling Green of two Iraqis who allegedly were involved in supporting al-Qaida in an effort to kill Americans sends a chilling reminder that the threat of terrorism is widespread and can even touch communities seemingly safe from harm. On Tuesday morning in Louisville, two Iraqi refugees who live in Bowling Green were arraigned on federal terrorism charges. They are accused of plotting to kill American soldiers with explosive devices in Iraq.

Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, is accused of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals overseas, conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against Americans overseas, distributing information on how to build and use improvised explosive devices, attempting to provide material support to terrorists and al-Qaida in Iraq and conspiring to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles, which are capable of downing commercial aircraft as well as military planes.

Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, is charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaida in Iraq, as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles.

While these men are innocent until proven guilty, the case illustrates that terrorism could be close at hand in any community, not just major cities such as New York and Washington. There is no evidence to suggest that there was any planned target in Bowling Green, but the arrests should serve to remind those Americans who believe the Patriot Act reaches too far that our government needs all the possible tools at its disposal to prevent disaster from occurring in the United States.

The arrests also raise questions about how well our government is vetting refugees who end up in communities across the country.

We commend law enforcement for making these arrests, should these charges prove to be true. It should be a comfort to know that behind the scenes, our law enforcement agencies are being careful and diligent in watching our communities for signs of terrorism.

At the same time, the charges should show everyone in our community that we should be observant of any suspicious activity and ready to report anything out of the ordinary to law enforcement.